Richard Hammond has become the final member of the Top Gear presenting team to quit the show.
Taking to Twitter earlier today, Hammond announced that he would not be deserting his “mates” Jeremy Clarkson and James May.
To be clear amidst all this talk of us 'quitting' or not: there's nothing for me to 'quit'. Not about to quit my mates anyway.
— Richard Hammond (@RichardHammond) April 24, 2015
According to BBC sources, Hammond’s contract – along with those of his co-hosts Clarkson and May – expired at the end of March.
Yesterday saw executive producer Andy Wilman announce he was leaving the show, following May’s decision not to do Top Gear without Clarkson, meaning the BBC2 series will have an entirely new presenting team and creative controller when it returns.
BBC2 controller Kim Shillinglaw has already confirmed Top Gear will be back in a new format next year – and could be presented by a woman.
The series – which has been off air since the BBC’s decision to suspend Jeremy Clarkson in March – has three shelved episodes which will air by the end of the year, before Top Gear returns in 2016 in its new guise.
Speaking at a BBC2 preview event in London this week, Shillinglaw – who was previously the BBC’s commissioning editor for science and natural history – declined to rule out a female host to front the new-look format.
“I am not really thinking about it in terms of gender,” she said. ”I have done a lot with female presenters when I used to work in science. That was something across the piece that I really wanted to tackle. It’s a really open book on that.
“We will definitely look at women but it is not the driving priority. I have never approached an individual show thinking that is the way you cast it.”
Outside of Top Gear, Hammond’s other BBC shows have included Wild Weather and Invisible Worlds, both on BBC1. He also fronted BBC1’s Saturday teatime gameshow, Total Wipeout.